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Subject: D.J. for Rap's Run-DMC Is Shot to Death in Queens

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Date Posted: October 31, 2002 4:44:25 EDT

Jam Master Jay, the D.J. who provided beats and scratches to the rap group Run-DMC's groundbreaking records, was shot and killed last night at a recording studio in Jamaica, Queens, the authorities said.

The D.J., whose real name was Jason Mizell, 37, was in a lounge in the second-floor studio with another man when two men entered, apparently after being buzzed in, around 7:30 p.m., the police said.

They shot Mr. Mizell once in the head and the other man once in the arm, then fled, the authorities said, leaving no immediate explanation for the killing.

Mr. Mizell died at the scene, the police said. The other shooting victim, Urieco Rincon, 25, was in stable condition at Mary Immaculate Hospital.

Robert Brown, an employee of the studio, on Merrick Boulevard near Jamaica Avenue, above a restaurant and a check-cashing store, said that Mr. Mizell was taking a break from producing a record by a group called Rusty Waters when the attack occurred. The police said there were at least four other people in the studio, but no one else was in the lounge.

Outside the studio on the commercial strip of Merrick Boulevard, a large crowd quickly formed in the cold rain, crying and comforting one another and occasionally lashing out in anger. Some of them were rap royalty.

"These are our Beatles," Chuck D, the founder of Public Enemy, said of Run-DMC, adding that Mr. Mizell had given him his first break in the music business.

Dr. Dre, a D.J. on Power 105.1 FM said: "This has got to end. I'm sick of coming down to these things and saying we can't have this anymore. This is my friend. I feel like my heart was broken."

One of Mr. Mizell's three children, a teenage son, arrived in tears.

In the 1980's, Run-DMC was the first rap group to become a household name, and Mr. Mizell's deft, playful manipulations of the turntables, a process known as scratching, were an essential part of their sound. Run (Joseph Simmons) and DMC (Darryl McDaniels) were the declamatory voices of the band, but they always described Run-DMC as an equal partnership between the three of them.

On stage, Mr. Mizell's pinpoint juggling of beats and records made Run-DMC one of the rap's most exciting live acts.

When a drumbeat on a vinyl record is scratched back and forth under a needle, it makes a sort of percussive swishing sound. The first scratches the average pop music fan ever heard were Mr. Mizell's, said Bill Adler, author of "Tougher than Leather: The Rise of Run-DMC."

"The true sound of hip-hop made its way to America through Run-DMC's records," Mr. Adler said, "and Jay could take a lot of credit for that."

Run-DMC notched rap's first platinum album, "Raising Hell," in 1986 and the biggest hit from that record, a remake of Aerosmith's hard-rock anthem "Walk This Way," was the first hugely successful marriage of rap and rock, styles that many had e believed were antithetical. Today, they are deeply intertwined.

For most of its history, rap has been criticized for promoting violence, and several rappers who sang the praises of the gangster life, including Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., were murdered. But Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay, all middle-class natives of Hollis, Queens, a mile or so from where Mr. Mizell was shot, created rap with a social conscience, urging listeners (between boasts) to stay in school, fight prejudice and respect one another.

Mr. Mizell himself was a subject of many of the band's rhymes. In the song "Jam Master Jay" from the band's first record, they rapped, " `Behind the turntables is where he stands / Then there is the movement of his hands / So when asked who's the best, y'all should say: / `Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay' "

When Run-DMC broke up temporarily in the late 1980's, Mr. Mizell started his own label, Jam Master Jay Records, which signed the highly successful group Onyx.

Run-DMC had gotten back together and had just finished a tour with Aerosmith and Kid Rock. Ms. Miller, the publicist, said that Mr. Mizell and Mr. McDaniels had been scheduled to perform tonight in Washington at a Washington Wizards basketball game. Mr. McDaniels told MTV News over the summer that the band was planning a new record and tour to mark its 20th anniversary.

As the police pulled away from the scene last night, leaving only fans and loved ones, a 27-year-old aspiring rapper named Dezo Chase tried to make sense of what had happened.

"I rhyme myself because of Run-DMC," he said. "I grew up on Run-DMC. A part of our history is gone. This was hip-hop history and they took it away tonight."

An S.U.V. slowly drove by, blasting the song "Jam Master Jay." "We can either come out here and celebrate the violence and the death or we can celebrate the memory of the music," Mr. Chase said. "The music is timeless."

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Please note: Discussions welcome on ANY famous passing that is posted hereMichelleOctober 31, 2002 4:49:19 EDT

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